Mental Focus with IPF World Record Holder Kim Walford

While we all have our own setup, there's something to say about the intensity some lifters radiate on the platform. I had the chance to train with Kim Walford, International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) World Record holder and 4-time World Champion and she gave me tips on how I can bring more intensity to approaching the bar. "If all else fails, and you can't think of something to get your fired up, think about people you don't like. Or people who don't want you to succeed - the haters. Who else would you want to see angry?"

Watch the video to see Kim's full interview:

I try my hardest to be a shining burst of positivity and light in my normal life, but there is something to say about the Apeman Strong slogan "Lift Angry" that Kim reads before every lift in her New Jersey home gym. My best lifting sessions are full of friends and laughs, but my pre-lift mantra is pretty emotional, "Pull. Pull. Pull. Mother fucker. Pull the fucking bar. Let's go." It's a funny switch to turn on and off. Right after the down command and 3 white lights, I'm back to being my bubbly bouncy self. 

Walford's home gym in New Jersey has many visual reminders for her to mentally prepare. Behind the deadlift platform her entire wall is covered with a huge American flag, and in the corner Kim runs a stream of inspirational videos on YouTube. Most days her own meet and sponsored videos will show up on the feed while the stereo blasts music. On the opposite wall, a banner with her SBD Apparel teammates: Ray Williams (120+kg, USA), Brett Gibbs (83kg, New Zealand), Inna Fillimonova (57kg, Russia), Mohamed Bouafia (Algeria, -120kg), and Stephan Manual (-105kg, Great Britain). Kim likes to remind herself of her sponsors and her supporters as a cloak of strength around her. 

The switch we turn on just before a lift is important, and something competitors of all training ages and levels should hone in on. We train for months and years for nine attempts at bringing our best total on a given day. In response to her sudden focus Kim explains, "You realize in the moment you have to be serious. Everything is focused on hitting that attempt because you don't have another opportunity. We all train so hard for that moment. Whether it's a Personal Record or a World Record, we all train so hard to prove to ourselves and everyone else that we can do it." 

Let me know how you personally gear up for the platform. Do you have a mantra, or visual reminders in your gym to get you hyped up? Comment them here so I can put more tricks up my sleeve. I've been recently thinking about the haters as Kim's training facility suggests, "Do it because they said you couldn't."

Walford is gearing up to bring her 5th Open World Championship at IPF Worlds next week in Killeen Texas. This is the first year World Classic Powerlifting Championships will be held in the USA, and lifters all over the world will be streaming in to watch here:

Make sure you check out Kimberly Walford on Instagram and on YouTube


I recently had the honor to train with Sarah Al-Khayyal, a 72kg USAPL Jr. Powerlifter and Middle Weight StrongWoman Athlete. Sarah recently qualified for Nationals in 2016 for both United States Strongman (USS) and North American Strongman (NAS) competitions in her first  ever competition season. Make sure you check out our videos on some of the classic Strongman implements: Log PressAtlas Stones, and Farmer carry on the Megsquats YouTube Channel.

By the nature of the name StrongMan, some women would be surprised that the sport is extremely welcome to newbies looking to get a little stronger and have some fun while doing it. 

1. Change your body... or just love what you have even more
The women of the sport come in ALL shapes and sizes. Different weight classes make competitions friendly and fair to someone short+small to tall+muscular and everything in-between. When you watch some of the pros, don't be surprised by the confident women pushing themselves to the limits of their bodies.

2. Do something cool with your life
There is nothing more satisfying than conquering the seemingly unconquerable. Do you really want to be stuck inside a gym on a beautiful Saturday morning? Also, let's be honest... the Instagram pictures alone are worth a training session.

3. Acquire functional strength
Crossfit might claim to be the epitome of 'functional fitness' but you're more likely to run into a situation where you need to move something awkward up a few flights of stairs, rather than need to complete 25 kipping pull-ups for time. Strongman events include pushing, pulling, bending twisting and walking with something heavy, usually over a long distance. Just like moving day, but much more badass. 

4. Give yourself a break from the barbell
Whenever I get burnt out from the Big 3 (squat, bench, deadlift), I look for a way to switch up my programming, while still lifting something heavy. Doing something as small as playing with a log press or axle instead of a barbell for a few weeks has helped me get excited about something new in my training. If you're lucky enough to deadlift a car or pull a truck for your training session, it might give you a nice refresher for when you need to get more specific. When you're in the off-season and in a general preparation phase, traditional strongman movements are great for gaining overall strength and muscle.

5. Have FUN. 
Why look for a way to pass the time during cardio, when you can truly challenge your strength with a team of other badasses? There are tons of resources to find women who are meeting on Strong (Wo)Man Saturdays to have some fun and help one another get stronger.